After 30 years in East Africa we are in a good place to equip churches in that region
to better do the ministry of Jesus & to better equip God’s People to do the same.
How did we arrive at this place? Blog 10 is the 5th in a series tracing our steps over a quarter century.
God was richly blessing our choice to strike out in a new direction.
During our time in the CA Vineyards we entered into a new level of worship,
experienced the healing presence of Jesus, acquired new ministry skills in the
Spirit and came one step closer to developing a lifestyle of ‘doing the ministry of Jesus’.
Better equipped, the questions arose: Where was our field of play? How were we to get
there? Who would play with us when we arrived?
About that time we had a visit from three friends who were in the area on a business
trip. They spent an evening with us during which we recounted the many Jesus-sightings of the previous nine months. We took them to a Sunday evening service at the Vineyard where they were greatly impacted. From that visit the way opened for us to return to Fort Smith where spiritual renewal was at a boiling point.
We packed up our meager possessions in two U-Hauls (how can poor people collect an additional trailer of stuff in only ten months?) and with our friends’ assistance trekked back across the desert to arrive in Ft. Smith (again) homeless, jobless and working on penniless. Spiritual renewal can be very humbling.
Anyway, we lived with Richard and Kathy Cazzell for a month while getting situated. A
few months later along with them, Bruce and Lynette Hawley and other friends we
started a new fellowship that would eventually grow into the Fort Smith Vineyard.
(I am writing this while preparing to attend the 25th anniversary of the founding of that church.)
Now the pace quickened. We were a part of a group of people who wanted to listen to
the voice of God – wanted to engage in intimate worship – wanted Jesus to walk
among us and touch us – wanted to learn to do the Jesus stuff together.
The amazing story of the next eight years is a book waiting to be written. But let me stay
on topic which is the quest to learn how to do the ministry of Jesus.
The Vineyard years were an adventure in knowing God, learning about people (the
differences in what they say they want – what they truly want – and what they will actually do) and learning to cooperate with Him in matters large and small.
Along the way, we became increasingly involved in ministry to the poor, healing the sick and addressing demonic issues.
Nevertheless, I was conflicted.
On one hand, I had come further in doing the things of Jesus than I had ever dreamed possible. I was deeply grateful to God for every good gift he was sending down from above.
Yet I was frustrated that what we were doing was still falling short of what transpired in the Gospels. My recurring complaint to God went something like this:
You gave me the Gospels — called me to ministry — and send an unending stream of
needy people to me for healing. I do the best I can. Some are healed. Some improve. But some are seemingly untouched. How can I do the ministry of Jesus without You providing me the means to fully do it. It’s just not fair!
The years passed and my discontent grew.
Until the day when a pastor who had similar feelings called and said, “I think God has heard your complaint.”
Had He? And what would be His response?
(To be continued in Blog 11)